Whether you’re using social media for business or personal use, it’s important to know the rules of the road. I’m always amazed at how people feel compelled to act completely opposite of what they would do in real life (IRL). It’s almost as if some alter-ego is coming out. That being said, social networking is a global communication system so it’s more important than ever to follow common courtesies and etiquette (or netiquette) to ensure the best possible communication, connections and experience online.
The golden rule still applies online. “Do unto others as you’d like done to you” is really all you need to know. The following specific social media etiquette guidelines are specific ways you can apply this rule.
Step In Their Shoes
Before commenting or posting anything, take a moment to think about how the person you most respect would respond to that post. If your reaction anything but positive, stop and rethink your post/comment. Do not post until you have a good feeling about what you’re about to share with the world. If you wouldn’t want the information to printed for the world to see it’s a good idea not to post it. Social media is another term for public publishing platform. It’s not really a good idea to think of it as a private forum.
Don’t Use Social Media as Your Therapist – Careful About Complaining
Don’t use it as a venting mechanism. Complaints won’t get resolved by being a loud mouth about the wrong doing of someone or a company. Be constructive online. You can ask for help, brainstorming, and advice. You can make suggestions, offer resolutions. In other words, use the amazing power of your brain to create solutions.
Don’t be a Pitcher
If you have a business, your inclination might be to use your personal social media accounts to sell your products. If you post too many offers to buy your products/services/books, attend courses/telesummits, you will likely get unfriended. Instead be a story teller. You can accomplish the goal of getting the word out with a story about what’s going on with regard to your business. It’s way more social. If you can’t share a story, then you might consider paid advertisements on the various networks. You can always go to eBay or Amazon if you have things to sell. You’ll do much better there.
Be Mindful of Others’ Space
You might be tempted to post something about your events, products or services in a thread of comments or on someone else’s timeline. However, this is typically seen as opportunistic and not welcome. Someone else’s timeline is about them. Not you. Feel free to comment, contribute, and praise others. Also, there is this great feature called tagging. It is meant for identifying real people in the photo, not calling attention to those who are not in it. Don’t tag people not in an image you are posting or relevant to it. If you’re going to post an image with others in it, it is common courtesy to ask them ahead of time if they mind you posting it and tagging them.
Become A Hero – Support and Share
If you use social media as a way to support others, cheer them on, and endorse them you become their hero. Someone may be secretly craving a little pick me up, encouragement or help in getting the word out about something you felt was valuable that they posted. Therefore, if you find they have great content, spread the word. Share, retweet, reply and/or comment on their post with how great it is.
Keep It Positive People
Do you enjoy reading people bashing other people? If you want to create a better world, be the change and refrain from perpetuating the problem. Be inspiring, giving and spread love not hate. Wouldn’t it be great to have the majority of the people using social media offering praise for others good work, gratitude for their connections and congratulations on their achievements? If you agree, go post a positive note to someone you care about.
Do Respond Personally
When someone comments or personally messages you or your business pages, be sure to reply to them. Social media is meant to be a two way communication system. It is polite to respond when someone is talking to you. Replying to mentions, messages, and comments is one of the highest compliments you can pay someone on social media. It will also instantly grow your reputation for the better as other see you actively engaging with others in a positive way.
Do Reach Out to Connect Sincerely and Build a Relationship
One of the most awesome things about social media is the ability to connect with people that you otherwise would know. So if you want to reach and “friend” someone, do so genuinely. Act as if you were giving them a virtual handshake, looking them in the eye, and then be curious about THEM.
Once you decide you’re going to participate in social media plan to be consistent. You don’t have to live there hours a day, but do check in and plan on posting regularly. You will build a good reputation by being present and consistently offering valuable communications.
Bottom Line on Social Media Etiquette
Before you do anything on social media, always do a gut check. When you are about to post something on social media, read it to yourself before you click the post button. If your gut says anything other than an enthusiastic yes, it’s a NO. Don’t post it. I can’t tell you how many times this has really saved me. Trust your gut. Use social media for good and let’s all create a more positive, fun and inspiring place to live and connect.